The Science Party, known as the Future Party during the 2015 NSW election, endorsed the following policies:
Additional Rail in Cities
Policy: The Future Party also supports the creation additional train lines through suburban areas currently devoid of any train stations. Extension of current cities into new areas should be accompanied by sufficient public transport infrastructure.
Discussion: Currently, suburban development on city fringes rely almost solely on buses that may need to travel up to 40 mins to the nearest rail line. This situation is unacceptable, as such systems actively discourage public transport use and cause increases in car congestion in the rest of the city.
Train lines give an assurance as to the on going provision of public transportation services to an area, allowing local services and town centres to build up around them.
Specifically, the option of a metro rail system should be investigated.
High Speed Rail
Policy: Creation of a high-speed rail-link running from Brisbane to Sydney to Canberra to Melbourne.
Discussion: The creation of the high speed rail-link will occur in several stages, as distance and population size will determine feasibility. Construction will initially be built from Sydney to Newcastle, then from Sydney to Canberra, then from Canberra to Melbourne, then from Newcastle to Brisbane. Importantly, this system will be designed such that no change in trains is necessary between these five cities, and travellers will be delivered directly to the centre of the city, which will greatly reduce travel times.
An investigation will be carried out into the feasibility of incorporating unutilised and under-utilised tracks, such as that between Redfern and Bankstown, as a part of the high speed rail corridor.
Policy: The Future Party supports the improvement and expansion of bicycle infrastructure in NSW.
Discussion: Cycling reduces congestion, improves the environment and improves health. In order to encourage increased bicycle use, facilities need to be provided to ensure that cyclists can travel safely.
The bicycle network, while it is improving, is not properly connected. This leaves cyclists stranded between good bike routes. They are forced either to use roads that are too dangerous or use footpaths inappropriately. The Future Party aims to improve the bicycle network by connecting existing routes with dedicated bike lanes or shared paths to ensure that cyclists can travel safely to their destination.
The current attempts to ‘retrofit’ bicycle infrastructure to existing roads often puts cyclists at risk. For example, many streets have bicycle markings in the door spaces of parked cars, which puts an onus on cyclists to travel in an unsafe space on the road. Some traffic calming devices also push cyclists and motorists into the same space. The Future Party will conduct a review to determine dangerous road infrastructure that should be removed or upgraded to improve safety of cyclists.
The development of bicycle infrastructure should be considered during the construction of new major transport projects where appropriate to reduce the costs of retrofitting those projects with bicycle infrastructure in the future.
Second Sydney airport
New planes need more trains
Policy: The Future Party supports the construction of a second airport servicing Sydney. However, this airport should be built together with additional infrastructure to ensure that local residents are not adversely affected by increased traffic and to ensure that the airport development achieves the greatest return on investment.
The Future Party will commence construction of the rail link at the same time as the construction of the airport. This rail line will be either a high speed train or a rapid service to the CBD depending on feasibility and cost.
Developing the airport region
Policy: to create a high density, CBD and residential zone close to (but outside the flight paths) of the airport.
Discussion: The nature of flight paths allows for quiet areas relatively close to airports, which experience very small amounts of noise pollution. As such, these areas have great potential for residential and commercial development. The Future Party proposes a micro city within a city, which will house 250,000 people in high density buildings. The area will also feature a central business district which will attract business through its proximity to the airport as an international transport hub.
Policy: To deregulate the taxi industry to allow ride-for-hire services like Uber to operate legally and safely, and to decrease the registration costs of taxi license plates.
Discussion: The Future Party believes that the current structure of the taxi industry is grossly inefficient. Customers face the doubly whammy of of high prices and huge inconveniences - taxis that aren’t available when most needed, don’t show up to bookings, won’t take fares for short trips, and so on. At the same time, many drivers make a pittance - far less than the minimum wage after deducting the costs of leasing the taxi and fuel - for a job that is all too often very difficult or even dangerous.
Current regulations, supposedly intended to protect the interests of both these groups, instead are actively harming them. Rather, they serve mostly to funnel oligopolistic profits to established players in the industry - to some extent, individual owners of taxi license plates, but also to the radio network operators who control the bookings, and the the payment system.
Transport for NSW should maintain a hire car driver authority registration system, to ensure that individuals are properly qualified to provide these services, and that their activities can be traced, to ensure the safety of passengers and compliance with relevant rules. This system should be open to any suitably qualified driver, for only the cost of administrative fees required to maintain the register, and be valid for driving across traditional hail and ride taxis, hire cars, and app-based systems such as Uber. The registry should also require drivers be properly insured to cover passengers, other users and drivers in case of an accident.
The Future Party acknowledges that current regulations disadvantage traditional taxi drivers. In particular, the cost of taxi license plates take away from the profits returned to taxi drivers. Allowing app-based ride-for-hire systems to exist while maintaining taxi license plate fees is unfair to taxi drivers. The Future Party will abolish the taxi number plate restrictions that increase cost of entry to the market and reduce competition.
Trams and Buses
Policy: The Future Party supports the development of dedicated public transport corridors to accommodate high-frequency, high-speed services between the CBD area of Sydney and junctions in the inner suburbs that connect to local bus services. We wish to thoroughly consider the issue of redundancy when implementing the tram system. In particular, current proposals have all major bus routes from both the eastern and western suburbs rolled into a single tram line along George st. This exposes transport across the entire CBD to possible failure in the case of breakdown.
Policy: The Future Party supports purchasing additional larger buses, such as double-decker and articulated (bendy) buses as a means to increase capacity on long range and popular routes with limited investment. These buses may also help with the connections between the tram junctions in the east and the west of the inner suburbs. These larger buses should have larger doors and allow entry through all doors. Buses which allow people to enter through the doors at the back of the bus should have cameras, flashing lights and beeping alarms to inform passengers that the doors are closing.
Policy: The Future Party supports the creation of bus stations that will allow passengers to get on and off buses more quickly at popular stops. The bus stations will have ticket readers to let passengers swipe their tickets before they get on and after they get off the bus.
Policy: Legalise testing of driverless cars in NSW with an aim to introduce driverless cars to NSW roads.
Discussion: The Future Party believes that driverless cars, trucks and public transportation should be legalised for a testing program in NSW, with aims to introduce driverless cars as regular vehicles on the road as soon as is practical and safe. Driverless cars have the potential to reduce collisions and hence cut road-related mortality. Driverless cars can also drive more efficiently, find quicker routes, prevent intoxicated driving, increase the mobility of people who cannot drive due to disability or age (both young and old). Driverless cars also allow the driver to utilise the time that they would have otherwise spent driving for recreation, or to perform work tasks while on the road. The introduction of driverless cars will herald a new era of car sharing. One car can be shared by multiple people, picking up one person at 8am and dropping them off at 8:15. Rather than standing idle for 8 hours like a regular car, a driverless car could then travel to another suburb by itself to pick someone else up at 8:30. Driverless cars can help make individual transportation faster and easier, all while reducing waste and increasing utilisation of existing infrastructure.
Optimise Existing Transport Infrastructure
Policy: Optimise existing transportation infrastructure to decrease travel/transport times, by targeted expenditure to reduce bottlenecks and thereby increase capacity.
Discussion: The Future Party believes that optimising the transportation system is critical to improving efficiency in the economy. The easier and quicker it is for goods and workers to move around, the more agile the economy is to change. For example, a local layoff is less likely to affect workers severely if alternate work is within commutable distance. Faster transportation also means a reduction in wasted time driving, and therefore more time enjoying life outside of work. For example, the current commute time in Sydney averages 34.3 minutes each way (http://www.bts.nsw.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/112/BR2012_04_transport_facts.pdf.aspx). By reducing travel time by 30%, Sydneysiders would gain approximately 82.3 additional hours per year in leisure time. Based on 16 hours of awake time per day, this is the equivalent of the addition of more than 5.1 days of leave every year.
Transport Modelling Transparency
Policy: All transport modelling should be released, to inform the public about expected costs, minimum operating viability, transportation times and maximal capacity.
Discussion: The Future Party believes in principles of open government. The release of transport modelling will allow residents of NSW to understand the implications of transport decisions, which will aid them in making decisions such as where to live, what mode of transport to use, and which transport infrastructure plans are the best.